Roy Lichtenstein - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Roy Lichtenstein approached the distinguished artistic genre of the female nude late in his career, innovating on a classic subject with his Pop Art treatment. Developed from comic book figures which defined his early successful works, Lichtenstein’s Nudes series, comprised of nine prints, refined and expanded upon his distinctive dialect of bold patterns and bright colors. The use of Benday dots, generated by computer for the first time in Lichtenstein’s work, create a playful chiaroscuro. Expansion in palate, beyond the primary red, blues and yellows of his early style, mark Lichtenstein’s refinement of the Pop Art signature style. The final major series before his death in 1997, Lichtenstein’s Nudes exemplify his innovative spirit while remaining true to the bright, playful style he pioneered.

    Lichtenstein composed his nude figures from printed sources, taking comic book characters and removing their clothing. The artist explains:
    "with my nudes there's so little sense of body flesh or skin tones – they're so unrealistic – that using them underscored the separation between reality and artistic convention"
    —Roy Lichtenstein

  • Removing the forms of his heroines from the confines of reality, Lichtenstein used the minimalistic detail of the nude figures as a foil to his more involved domestic interiors. The emphasis on background rather than human subject highlights his interest in in the genre of the nude as a space for further refining his color and pattern applications.

    As with many of Lichtenstein’s works, Roommates is a study in contrast. The “undulating and volumetric” forms of the women serve to emphasize the “rigid geometry” of their surrounding interiors (quoted in Robert Hurlburt, “Lichtenstein Returns to Comic-Book Style”, Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, November 1994). The relief printing of key outlines produces bold lines which crisply delineate the border between living things and domestic scenery. Transcending these divergent elements, the bright dots tie the composition together and emphasize the unity of the piece. In Roommates a field of blue dots connects the two female figures, raising questions about the nature of their relationship. Lichtenstein employs these playful allusions throughout the Nudes series, drawing the viewers eye to distinctive details amidst a lively composition.


    John Hutcheson using a brayer to ink the woodblock on the lithography offset press bed for the black print run of Roy Lichtenstein's color relief print Roommates, Tyler Graphics Ltd. workshop, Mount Kisco, New York, 1994. Photograph by Marabeth Cohen-Tyler.

    Although innovative, Lichtenstein was deeply aware of his art within the context of the Western cannon, drawing inspiration from Modern movements, such as Cubism and Impressionism and masters like Picasso and Matisse. Referencing his own oeuvre as well, Lichtenstein integrated motifs found in earlier works from the series’ Mirrors, Waterlilies, Interiors and Imperfects. As a final series, Lichtenstein’s Nudes reflect a maturity of style which perfectly integrates the elements of his earlier work, imparting layered references and myriad meanings to each composition. 

    • Provenance

      Gift of the artist
      Leo Castelli Gallery, New York

    • Literature

      Mary Lee Corlett 282

Property from an Important Private Collection


Roommates, from Nudes Series (C. 282)

Monumental relief print in colors, on Rives BFK paper, with full margins, the colors bright and fresh.
I. 57 5/8 x 45 in. (146.4 x 114.3 cm)
S. 64 1/8 x 51 in. (162.9 x 129.5 cm)

Signed, dated and numbered 'AP 5/10' in pencil (an artist's proof, the edition was 40), published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York (with their blindstamp), framed.

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $428,400

Contact Specialist

212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 20 - 22 April 2021